December 31, 2012

The Year in Review

First of all, Arnold would like to say:


IT'S NEW YEAR'S EVE WOOOOOOOOOO!

Ahem.

2012? Not too shabby. The husband and I have been referring to it as the Year We Spent All That Money, what with road trips, buying a newer car, and fixing that g.d chimney that cost a small fortune. But it was all worth it, of course. Otherwise we would have sat at home all year because of a broken-down vehicle and then the house would have caught fire because of a leaky chimney.

The year started off with my 2012 To-Do List. Yeaahh, kinda fell off the wagon on that one. Here's the list:
The 2012 Just-in-Case the World Should End To Do List, Which is in No Particular Order of Importance. Also called the2012 JCWSELWPOI, if you're into brevity.
1.) I'm so making baked Alaska. BOOM. The gauntlet has been thrown, bitches.
2.) Learn how to play the guitar. (In progress!)
3.) Ride on a motorcycle. (Skedaddled out of that one by the skin of my teeth.)
4.) Sew a dress from a vintage pattern.
5.) Visit Taliesin. Here I come, Frank Lloyd Wright! This trip also may or may not include the House on the Rock.
6.) Buy a 1950s dress.
7.) Donate to the local animal shelter.
8.) Watch these classics: 
Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Pulp Fiction, North by Northwest, Schindler's List, and To Kill a Mockingbird. (Still in progress. Obvi.)
9.) Make a souffle.
10.) Sleep under the stars. This one might be tricky, because I hate bugs. We'll see.
11.) Watch 5 sunrises in a row.
12.) Get in the car one morning and take a road trip without knowing where we're going.
13.) Go on a picnic.
14.) Have my favorite photos that I've taken printed, and hang them in my home.
15.) Plant a tree.

16.) Become a micro-lender on Kiva.org
17.) Make 2 vegan desserts.
18.) Eat 5 foods I've never eaten before. (Bear meat, collard greens, fresh pears (!), pasties, and I forgot the last one.)
19.) Print out all my digital photos and put them in albums, so that I actually have physical copies of them. I'm 4 years behind on this. Help.
20.) Finish reading Don Quixote.
Not bad! I accomplished over half the list, which is more than I thought I would do. Go me.  

The rest of the year went a little something like this:


NOT LIKE THAT, LIKE THIS!

First, we got a buttload of snow. A buttload is a technical term meaning "slightly less than an asston." As you can see, said snow almost buried our rather large dog.


We found Arnold.


When the weather warmed up, we took the dog for lots and lots of walks.



I cut my hair and had bangs for the first time since 5th grade.


We went to Superior, WI to see my sister-in-law graduate from college.


And then to Wyoming to visit the kinfolk.


And then to Munising, MI. 


I canned and canned until I was thoroughly sick of looking at cucumbers, tomatoes, and any other vegetable.


I took way too many pictures of the moon,


and we went to the Paine Art Center in Oshkosh.


There are already a handful of plans in motion for next year (evil laugh) that will hopefully pan out and be wonderful.

As always, I am ever grateful to everyone that takes time out of their day to stop by this weird little corner of the internets to read my drivel.

Happy New Year,
- The Black Spruce Hound Gang


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December 28, 2012

Photo Friday: Holiday Hangover

How I've felt the past few days:


Christmas was filled with wonderful things this year, including Godfather inspired present wrapping,


Lewd renderings of the Three Kings,


Horrifying ornaments,


Gigantic Reese's peanut butter cups,


and a wee bit of the old alcohol. 


I'll be back on Monday, just in time for New Years!


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December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

See, I cannot be fooled. I know the date.

Tonight my husband and I will open presents (!), and call my family out West to wish them a Merry Christmas, so I'm thoroughly excited about that. Then tomorrow morning it's off to do the Christmas morning thang with my husband's family.


Today I shall be covered in flour, sugar, and butter. While I'm on the topic, someone should make that into a perfume. All-purpose flour eau de parfume, with vanilla and a hint of patchouli.


Anyway, posting will be irregular this week as I spend time with family, as I'm sure the rest of you will be as well.


Wishing you happy holidays and Doctor Who Christmas ornaments,
- Beth and the whole Black Spruce Hound gang


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December 21, 2012

Photo Friday: Again with the Snow

We had our first big snow of the season yesterday. As I type this (early evening, Thursday) there's about 5 inches on the ground, and it's not done yet.

I let the dog outside yesterday morning and it looked like this:


She looked like this when she got back in:


But had no interest in having her picture taken. Figures.


See you on Monday!


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December 19, 2012

Potato Tacos

I had never heard of potato tacos until last week when someone mentioned them on the Twitter. Immediately intrigued, I Googled and got the basic gist - tacos made with fried chunks of potatoes. Instead of reading an actual recipe, I decided to wing it instead.


I made these tacos 3 times in 3 days. They are that good.


Not to mention they are ready in under 30 minutes, and are a relatively healthy vegetarian dinner/lunch option, as long as one overlooks the whole 'carb on carb' thing. As you should. Crispy pan-fried potatoes dusted with spices, wrapped up in a tortilla with whatever else you like on a taco? Yes, please.



Potato Tacos

2 large potatoes (2 large potatoes will feed 2-3 people, so adjust the recipe accordingly)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Salt, pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon each of ground cumin, oregano, onion powder, and garlic powder
Tortillas
Favorite taco toppings

Scrub the potatoes until clean. Life's too short to peel potatoes, so just chop them into a small 1/2 inch dice.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan over low heat. When butter is melted, add the chopped potatoes. Season with salt and pepper, add the spices. Stir to coat the potatoes with the spices. Cover the frying pan with a lid or a piece of aluminum foil. Cook the potatoes over low heat, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until cooked through, 20-25 minutes. During the last few minutes of cooking, remove the lid and crank the heat to medium-high to brown the potatoes and make them crispy.

To assemble, heat a tortilla, plop some potatoes on it, and add your favorite taco toppings. Roll it up and devour.

Note - there is a high probability that these would be fan-freaking-tastic for breakfast with a fried egg in there with the potatoes. Just sayin'.


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December 17, 2012

Holiday Hair - Bun with Pearls

I'm filing this one under 'Potential' for cute holiday hairstyles. And someone please slap me, I almost used the word 'festive' in the last sentence, as in 'festive holiday hair.' If there's ever been a word that should never be used to describe hair, 'festive' would be it. 

Anywho. Put your hair into a high bun. (I'm going to assume you don't need step-by-step photos of that, call me crazy.) A smooth bun is best, but I gots an awful lot of hair to try and smooth out and shape into a perfect bun, so mine's messy. 


Grab thee some pearlage.


Wrap the pearls around the bun with the ends facing the front. Cross the ends.


Begin to wrap the ends around...


...and secure them by wrapping them under the rest of the necklace.


And that's that!


I rather like it, but I think this should be done with fake pearls. A long strand of plastic pearls would be perfect, and then you could use bobby pins to secure it to the bun. I was using real pearls, and didn't want to damage them by using pins.

See you on Wednesday, I have a delish recipe to share that involves tacos! (Insert evil laugh here.)


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December 14, 2012

Photo Friday: First Snow

Technically, this isn't the first snow of the year, but it's the first snow that's stuck around for more than a few days. These pictures were taken Monday morning.




I wish I could be excited, but Good Lord I hate winter. I think I hear Texas calling.

See you Monday!


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December 12, 2012

Current Favorites: Fall/Winter Clothing Edition

So here's the thing - I don't like to wear pants. There. I said it and I'm glad. Once you get into the habit of wearing dresses and skirts all the time, jeans are just awful.

This poses a problem in the winter, because a) I'm always cold, and b) it's g.d. cold outside. In the winter, you can usually find me in my much-maligned jeans or sweatpants, socks, and a sweater, huddled under a blanket and thinking about pancakes.

However, this year I'm determined to keep my shit together and stay warm, all at the same time. I've been filling some gaps in my cold-weather wardrobe and think I've figured out a few solutions.

My current favorites are shorter skirts made from heavy materials. The brown one is a wool blend and the other is a poly blend.


Worn higher up on the waist, the hem hits just above the knee. Paired with tall boots and heavy leggings or knee socks, they're perfect. For those 8 minutes a day I'm exposed to cold air, I'm able to stay warm. FYI, both skirts were purchased at Goodwill.

Speaking of tall boots, these are my go-to boots this year:


Frye Campus boots and suede wedge boots that my parents bought me for Christmas about 784 years ago.

Also on rotation this season:



A wool coat, found for $8.99 at Goodwill. I was looking for a short winter coat and Goodwill saved the day.

And my last first-world dilemma is this - how to wear these boots with dresses without looking like a dork:


Sorry. I'm kind of a boot whore, can you tell? These are Ariats, and they're super-comfy, but I'm not used to wearing them with anything other than pants.

Anyone have any stay-warm tactics this year that don't involve a balaclava? Let me know!


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December 10, 2012

Around the Home: Decorating with Vintage Items

That fancy-pants title is there because it sounded better than 'Having a Bunch of Old Crap in Your House.'

I'm not a huge fan of homes that look like an Ikea store was turned upside down and dumped inside the walls. I love a good mix of old and new, modern and vintage. That mix is what I attempt to achieve in my own home, ergo:

In the living room, a wooden crate instead of an end table.


In the bathroom, an old Coca-Cola crate holds a candle and some rocks from Lake Superior. This is also where I put a book and my glasses when I take a bath. Because I read in the bath. As you do.

Inside the crate are bottles of bath salts.


A blue transferware plate holds my husband's shaving supplies.


In the bedroom, a gold-rimmed plate holds a candle. 


The table is an old handmade hard maple number that I refinished about 5 years ago. The top is smooth as a baby's butt, but I left in the majority of the old scratches and scrapes to give it some character.


Our alarm clock and a spare phone sit on an old ammo crate. Please ignore the dangling cord situation I've got going on there.


There is another reason I love using vintage items around the home - it's all just repurposing what you probably already have. Instead of buying a candleholder, I realized I had an old plate lying around and used that instead. Instead of buying small tables, I used a few old crates.

Do any of you have a house full of vintage? Tell me about it in the comments!


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December 7, 2012

Photo Friday: Sunsets and Moons

Ok, so nothing new and exciting here for Photo Friday. Sunsets. Moons. Standard protocol!

Our sunsets are generally better in the winter, so this means I may have to actually schlep myself out in the cold to take photos.






See you on Monday!


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